Flow of money
In order for you to start making money from your vet job, you will need two things: a bank account to receive the money (although you will learn some ways to go around that) and a National Insurance Number for your tax deductions.
Bank accounts – the address goes round and round
Ok so if you want to work in the UK you are going to need a UK bank account at some point in order to make everything easier for you and receive your salary. The problem: they require you to provide them with an address, which is fair enough. It does mean, however, that you need to have a physical address and proof of living in there. You need something like a letting contract or bills issued to you on your UK address. In many cases, this is all you need. If you’re now stuck at the “have an address” bit, check our page on how to find a place to stay.
Another foreign vet recently told me that some banks now request that you have a UK address for at least 6 months. That’s not very realistic unless you’re on holiday for 6 months… so I would just suggest you look for a bank that doesn’t have that requirement! Plus, there are other ways you can receive money in pounds without having to worry about the silly conversion rates from different currency accounts (keep reading 😀 ).
Is home in the UK?
If you’ve moved to a place with a lot of immigrants and a very present foreign community, you might be lucky enough to have your home bank represented, or you might be with an international bank back home that is present in the location you’ve moved to. If that’s the case, go and talk to them first, because chances are they will be more flexible with you and even if you can’t have a UK account, they might give you ways to work around that.
There are many many banks available in the entire UK. There is an exhaustive list on this page. Banks like Lloyds, TSB, Royal Bank of Scotland, HSBC and Barclays are well known in Scotland. You can also find retail group banks (Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Co-Operative).
Getting sterling pounds without going bankrupt
You are probably wondering – if you are going to move to the UK and they use sterling pounds as a currency, you’re going to have to convert your native currency to pounds. As you are probably guessing, there are many ways to do this, and also many ways to lose money by doing so? Why is that?
Well, when you convert two currencies, you will be getting a certain conversion rate, which may better or worse depending on your timing (if you have Euros, converting them to Pounds when the conversion is closer to 1:1 will make you have more pounds with the same euros). BUT – there are also usually many other fees that make you lose 5 to even 10% of the money you are converting. These are the fees charged by the service you used to convert the currency (such as your bank!).
So how can you make the best out of it? Well, I will share with you a very useful tool that I use myself. You can even have an idea of the value of your money just by making a quick simulation on their website. This tool is called Transferwise and I have provided you an affiliate link that allows you to get your first transfer for FREE up to £500 (keep reading cause it gets better! 🙂 )
Transferwise allows you to create a virtual account for free and send and receive money in different currencies. Your conversion rate is the best possible rate (aka the rate you find in Google) and their fees are really transparent (and cheap!). To give you an idea, let’s say you want to convert Euros to Pounds. If you convert 1000€ you may be paying something like 5€ as a transfer fee. That is 0.5% of your transaction value. To put it into perspective, using your bank, you might be charged something like 5% of the transaction volume instead – that’s 50€ you’ve just lost on this transfer!
However, with Transferwise your fees are completely transparent and you can pay for them in all different ways, from bank transfers to credit cards.
Here’s how it works: say you have an account in Euros and want to move to the UK. You will want to use pounds to make your payments and avoid silly fees every time you use your Euro card instead. Let’s also say that you don’t yet have a UK bank account.
You go to Transferwise and say you want to convert a certain amount of Euros into Pounds (or that you want to get a certain amount of pounds, and it will automatically tell you how many euros that is). After that, you choose how you want to send that money (say you want to use your debit card).
And who do you send it to? You have two options – if you are lucky already and you have a UK bank account, send it there. If not… you can create a “borderless account” that basically lets you create a virtual sterling pound account where your money is deposited and that you can use as a bank account to make payments by bank transfer.
Read that last statement again… can you see how powerful that is? That means you don’t actually need a bank account to be able to hold, receive and spend pounds. You can use Transferwise as your “bank account” until you actually have a UK bank account! The borderless account is also completely free to create!
And don’t forget that if you want your first transfer for free, all you need to do is using the website by following this link (it’s an affiliate link I can provide you as a user of their services).
It does get even better
So you’ve just found out how you can get away without having a UK bank account initially by using Transferwise‘s borderless account to hold pounds… But here’s the thing, this money is held on a “virtual bank account”, so you can only use it if you can somehow pay for things using bank transfer. Now, while that’s quite useful to pay the rent, it’s not very practical if you are going around shopping in the UK for grocery or just a coffee…
But Transferwise has an amazing solution. This is life changing for “expats” – people that move to a country different from their own. You can actually apply for a Debit Card that automatically uses your Transferwise currencies. What does this mean in practical terms? It means that if you transferred pounds to your virtual account, you can now actually use them for free by using the card! So you can actually pay for your grocery with your card using pounds without ever having had a UK bank account!
Even better – this is not limited to one or two currencies… you can actually hold FORTY (yes, 40) currencies! It’s super useful for travelling and do online purchases in currencies other than your own as long as you have those currencies in your account – and even if you don’t hold the right currency, using the card will allow you to convert one of your currencies in a much more affordable way than using your actual bank card (same way as if you were using the website app to convert currencies)!
The National Insurance Number – NIN
The NIN (sometimes NINo) is a number that you need to request in order to start working. You need a UK address to be able to get it but the process is fairly straightforward. Having a NIN allows tax to be deducted from your salary when you take a full-time position. You might be able to start working without a NIN but need to apply to get one ASAP.
How to get a NIN
- Call the NI application line (contacts here)
- Attend an interview at a JobCentre Plus
- Bring your ID documents – passport/identity card, driving licence, resident permit, marriage or civil partnership certificate, birth or adoption certificate
- I would also bring something like a bill with your current address (if you don’t have a driving licence)
- In this interview you will be filling up a form with your details and the documents will be checked before you’re attributed a NIN – this will be posted to the address you have provided
Finding the nearest JobCentre Plus
To find the nearest JobCentre Plus simply follow this link and use your UK postcode.